ready? Maybe…

T minus 3 days to my race.

I have been feeling oddly relaxed about it. It doesn’t even seem real. That’s a good thing, though – anything that decreases my anxiety is good. I suppose it helps that I’ve had oodles of work this week, and a big deadline. I haven’t had much space in my head to think about the race.


I ran on Tuesday, 3.7 miles, and had a really surprisingly strong pace. I planned to run on Wednesday, but a storm prevented that run. I decided maybe that’s a good thing, because I can focus on that strong 3.7 miles. I’m at a point where there’s absolutely nothing I can do to improve my race. My body is as strong as it will be, and it’s strong enough.

As long as I do not get injured again, I’m confident that I will finish the race, and I do not think that’s likely (knock on wood). My knee has plenty of range-of-motion to run. It still hurts if try to bend it beyond 45 degrees or so – an extreme bend, like if I was to sit on my heels – but I don’t plan to do that during the race, of course! I still have a funny feeling like I’ve got a knot in the top of my calf muscle, just below the knee, but I can’t get it out with the foam roller. In fact, my legs feel a bit tired when I’m resting. But that feeling goes away when I run.

Tonight, I drove my race route – something I have never before been able to do! I’ve trained on several parts of this race route before, so I’m familiar with these roads. It’s a beautiful area, very flat. It should be a fantastic race.

Now, as I am constantly reminding myself- I am ready. I am familiar with this race route. I know I am strong enough.

healing an injury and prepping for the race

Oh, my knee… the cause of so much frustration this week…

My knee is feeling a LOT better overall. It’s not totally healed – it still hurts (A LOT) when I bend it too far. In fact, I’m a little concerned about re-injuring it due to absent mindedness. I frequently forget about my inured knee and try to kneel or bend in some habitual way – I am quickly reminded of my injury! But I have sufficient range of motion for running, and I can mostly walk without a limp.

I ran twice last week… 

  
3.7 miles on Wednesday…
  
…and 5.1 miles on Saturday. 

I was cautious about running any more than that, though. Another injury would be catastrophic right now. Running was doable… but my knee/leg felt TIRED afterward. Thanks to my very generous friend Theresa, who took me to her gym, I was able to incorporate two or three sessions on a stationary bike – low impact, that felt good.

  
I ran 3.75 miles today, which went surprisingly well. The first mile or mile and a half was tough. My knee felt just a little bit achy, and I was frustrated. It was hard to get into the run. But the last couple miles were fantastic! At some point, my knee stopped aching, and I was able to just run. I slipped into that “zen zone”. Near the end of the run, it finally dawned on me that my knee had stopped aching.

Of course, after the run and shower, my knee felt a bit achy again. That’s okay, though, as long as my knee is okay with running. I finally feel like I’m getting better.

I’m pretty insanely nervous about my upcoming race, and not being able to run as much isn’t helping. When I’m not running as frequently, it feels like it’s more of a mental struggle to push myself to run. It’s one more challenge in the mental game. It’s strange, because I know that running twice a week is still a pretty good amount of running, and I should be feeling good about that.

Of course, with my injured knee, I’m running slower than I would like. That’s indirectly due to self preservation (I don’t want to push myself and gain another injury) and directly due to the injury (my knee feels good enough to run, but I can still feel a tiny bit of discomfort and just can’t push myself as much as I would like).

I know that, come race day, I will have to adjust my mental expectations. Pre-injury, I ran 8 or 10 miles at up to a 12:42 pace – that would be fast enough to do a half marathon in 2:46:29! Phenomenally mind blowing fast! But with my knee, I just do not expect that I will be able to do that. I’m focusing on 13:43, the benchmark I’ve held since I signed up for this race. 13:43 is the pace to finish in 3 hours. Under 3 hours is still an amazing pace, still a great PR, and, I’m afraid, still going to challenge me.

For now, I’m just focusing on this race. Ice my knee, rehab, and be ready for a great race… regardless of my pace or time.

injuries

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Today, I planned to go for a 12-mile run, my last long run before my big race. Didn’t quite work out that way! After about 3.5 miles, I fell pretty hard, and managed to tweak my right knee.

I’m still not exactly sure what I did. I wasn’t surprised when my knee hurt a little bit after my run. I WAS surprised when it didn’t stop hurting. I was honestly expecting to bounce back up, dust myself off, and resume my run. Instead, I lay on the ground holding my knee and figuring out what I was going to do.

 

my sunglasses didn’t survive the fall. i would be upset, but i never pay more than $1 or $2 for sunglasses and i’ve had these for two years. time for a new pair!

About this time, I found myself surrounded by three individuals, one woman and two men. They were extremely concerned.  I figured out that they had been driving by, saw me laying on the ground, and stopped to see if I was okay. I never did get their names, but I definitely want to thank them for stopping. It’s nice to see a bit of kindness in the world.

The pain had let up significantly, and my knee wasn’t swelling. My knee was stiff, but it was bearable. I seriously, seriously considered resuming my run, or at least trying. 3.5 miles is such a short distance! And I’m feeling so unprepared for my upcoming race!

 

sitting in the grass, pondering the severity of my knee injury

Reluctantly, I decided to quit. If my knee was really injured, I needed to focus on getting it ready to run again before the race. I knew I needed an ice pack. So I called my mother and asked her to come get me.

 

icing my knee

Did I mention I was reluctant? The weather was great today. And I really, really want to prove to myself that I can run long before the race.

As far as injuries go, I do think I lucked out. My knee is now very stiff and tender, and it hurts to bend it, but overall I think it isn’t too bad. There’s almost no swelling or bruising. It probably won’t take long to heal, and truth be told, I feel bad complaining about it. I don’t think it’s wise to run on it right now, but at the same time I feel like it barely qualifies as an injury.

With the race only four weeks away, my anxiety is really starting to build. Why am I doing this again?!?!

when it feels good to be bad

I haven’t run in a few days. Since last Wednesday, to be precise.

I know that’s a little surprising, given that I have just over one month before I run the Independence Half Marathon, and in general my running was going really well. When I started my period last week (two weeks late!), though, I decided it was a good excuse to take a few days off. I was surprised by how mentally relieved I felt. Unintentionally, I’ve reminded myself that I need to take an occasional break mentally, as well as physically.

This break coincided nicely with a slight mileage taper. I ran a 10 miles on April 12 and 19, and about 25 miles each week. I was already planning to cut back on my April 26 long run. I had a couple of non-running events planned for that weekend. Perhaps more importantly, I figured that I want to run 12 miles on April 2 (this weekend). Rather than push myself longer every weekend (and risk injury!), I planned to cut back last weekend.

That 12-mile run will be my longest run before the race. For most of the month of April, I will be tapering up to the big race. I’ll continue running consistently, but I’ll be limiting my long runs to 6 or 8 miles.

And if this 12 mile run goes well… and if the race goes well… who knows? I may sign up for a full marathon soon.

Leprechaun Lane 5k, 10 mile runs

On March 5, I ran the Leprechaun Lane 5k with my best friend, Theresa.

  
It was a small race, but awesome. My legs were really working that day. I ran faster than Theresa in this race, which made me feel a little bad. Theresa has been running much longer than I, and she’s had a lot of coaching. She’s an amazing runner, and I never imagined I would ever run faster than her. But she assured me that she hasn’t been running much in her recent training (she’s spent more time on the bike lately), and she didn’t expect a great time for this race.
  
Since she was just a little bit behind me, Theresa watched my style as compared to other runners. It wasn’t a terribly hilly race, but there were a few decent inclines. Theresa later told me that she was really impressed with my consistency on the hills – I kept running, while many of the people around me slowed to a walk. Funny, since I don’t much like hills and I don’t consider myself a great hill runner!

  
My chip time was 34:22.8, which is all kinds of PR for me!! Not just a race PR, but an all-time PR.

Outside of the races, I’m still putting in the miles most days every week. I’ve been running 12-13 miles over the course of 3-5 runs during the week, and 10 miles on my weekend long runs. It’s been HARD, but incredibly rewarding.  

 
I stop at a QuikTrip for a drink of water during my run, which has worked out surprisingly well. Even if I’ve forgotten my water bottle, they still let me get a drink without charging me. Now, I don’t drink a ton of water during my runs, but it’s still a really kind thing that they don’t have to do. I try to give them lots of business when I’m not running (buying gas, fountain drinks, candy) because of that.

  
These are the Musselman’s Honey Cinnamon applesauce squeezeable pouches. They’re fantastic. I can buy 4 pouches for about $2. It also doesn’t require any chewing, which is pretty critical during my runs!

I’m amazed that I’ve managed to do 10 miles at a 12:42 pace, and I feel good enough at the end that I could keep going. It’s exciting and nervewracking. I have just over a month to my half-marathon, and 12:42 is a great pace right now.

I’ve been reminded in the past couple of weeks how much I need running – not for health reasons, but to keep my sanity. I’ve found that running is one of the few times in my life when I can have privacy. I live with my parents, an arrangement that we all find beneficial, but I’m virtually never home alone. Running has given me the space to figure out plenty of situations in my life.

I won’t lie, I’ve shed plenty of tears during my runs. I wear sunglasses, and if I need to cry, I do. My eyes are hidden, and any sobs are pretty well concealed by my heavy breathing, so I’m not concerned about my neighbors seeing anything.

I have a 5k in mid-April, then the half-marathon on May 1. Exciting!!!

Weekend Warriors and Wipeouts

When I began to really take running seriously, I swore to myself that I would never become a “weekend warrior” – an individual who runs very little during the week, then runs several miles on the weekend. I’d read that this training pattern predisposes you to injuries and doesn’t much help you build strength for distance running. For the most part, I’ve kept that promise, and I have never run significantly more on the weekend than I have during the week. I’ve worked hard to ensure that I always ran at least as many weekday miles as weekend miles.

Until now!

I barely ran at all this week. I had an opportunity to spend time with a friend all week, something we’d been wanting to do for awhile, and as a result I didn’t run. Absolutely no complaints – I had a blast with my friend, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

When I got home this morning, the weather was GORGEOUS. 70 degrees, sunny, light wind. It was the kind of day that was just begging for a run. I decided today deserved a long run – something like eight and a half miles.

  
And it was wonderful. The warm weather felt amazing. I pounded the miles and couldn’t have been happier.

Until about 3.5 miles into my run, when I added another alliterative W to my run… wipeout! I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but when I was crossing a small side street (with no traffic, luckily), I fell. I landed on the pavement HARD, and I skinned my knees, my palms, and my left elbow.

I stood up, got out of the road, and dusted myself off. I’d lost some skin, but nothing was bleeding severely. My elbow was a little tender, but not bad. My legs still felt okay. Nothing was broken or sprained. I was three and a half miles from home, so I did what I think was the most logical thing – I finished my run!

After I got home and showered, I discovered that what I’d thought was dirt was actually a few pretty gnarly bruises. My knees and elbow have turned technicolor black and blue. I’m a little surprised because I don’t normally bruise easily, but it WAS a pretty hard fall.

  
  
For the most part, the damage seems superficial. The bruises and scrapes will heal. I got up and kept running, which feels pretty hardcore. And in the meantime, if anyone asks about the giant bruises on my elbow or knees, I can brag about running a bit. 🙂

8.66 miles with a fantastic pace

I had a GREAT run today.

I mean, REALLY GREAT.

I ran 8.66 miles. The weather was lovely – 50 degrees, partly cloudy, light breeze. I had a new pair of earbuds to try – similar to these, but made by Sentry.

I used a different brand of fuel today. The grocery store has a sale on Musselman’s Squeezables. The Honey Cinnamon flavor, incidentally, has 17g of carbs per packet, versus 13g in my usual brand.

I started slow, purposely not trying to pace myself at all. Since I ran quite a bit this week, I didn’t want to overdo it. I was also feeling super cautious because my throat felt a tiny big sore, and I was a little concerned that I was getting sick.  

 I ate (drank?) about a half-pack of fruit every mile. By the two-mile mark, I was feeling surprisingly good. The pain in my throat had disappeared, and overall I just felt strong.

In the third mile, the breeze picked up a bit, and I was running into it. Not easy, but I pushed through it. I ran through a shopping district and passed several people during the fourth mile, as well as several cars.

  
At the halfway point, I stopped at QuikTrip to refill my water bottle and dump some trash. I like this photo – the sweat and messiness is a great metaphor for how I felt. 

  
I pushed back toward my house, through the fifth  and sixth mile. By this point I was feeling it in my legs, but I also knew that my pace was remarkably strong, so I decided to push it and see how well I could finish.

The last couple of miles were hard. I was pushing myself, but at the same time my legs seemed to be moving in slow motion. Yet I knew I was having some success – my pace was STRONG, around 13:00. I told myself that the squeezable fruit was superhero juice in my legs. 🙂 Must have worked!

Edit: can’t believe I forgot to mention this! During the 7th mile, a man driving a black Dodge Charger made a very conspicuous effort to honk at me and wave. I’m always glad when people honk at me (it’s fun to be noticed), but I don’t have the slightest idea who it was!

By the last half-mile, I was running on fumes. Knowing that I only had a half-mile left, then a quarter-mile, I dug in as much as I could and threw myself into running.

And it worked. The squeezable fruit, the beautiful weather, everything worked. I ran 8.66 miles in 1:49:44, with a pace of 12:40. Along with my 4 other runs this week, that also brings me to 23.9 miles for the week. I can’t help but imagine myself at the beginning of my running journey, or even before it. I never imagined that I would be able to run so far at that pace.

I still have some anxieties over my upcoming race. I am still unsure about many things in my running world. (8.66 miles is good, but can I run 13.1 at that pace?) But right now, I just feel good.

A Perfect Weekend for Running

Oh hai there! I should update this site, shouldn’t I?

Running has been GREAT. I haven’t been able to run as much as I would like this month, but I’ve still managed to get I at least two or three runs each week. I’m feeling strong.

It’s been a busy month – work and play have kept my schedule full. This is certainly not a complaint. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the past few days, I’ve had two of my best runs in a long time:  

 Last Friday, I set out to run about 3.5 miles. Near the beginning of the run, I happened into Ofc. Abraham, a police officer with whom I’ve interacted before. She was not on an emergency call, and we hadn’t seen each other in a few years, so we had a pleasant time catching up. She recommended a particular community program that would allow me to work with and learn from the police department, which was quite flattering. She believed I would enjoy and be an asset to this program.  

that’s a patch of snow behind me!

That left me in such a good mood that I went on to run my fastest 5k time yet – 35:56. I know it’s only a training run, but it feels so wonderful when I’m able to do that. It’s a huge encouragement.

The weather this weekend has been BEAUTIFUL. Up to 60 on Saturday. With such beautiful weather, I felt that I couldn’t miss this chance to run. I felt so good that I decided to try for 8.5 miles.

I “geared up”, which in my case meant two fanny packs with my fuel of choice, Simply Nature squeezable pureed fruit, and a cheap plastic bottle of water. I wore a tank top and shorts, which felt fantastic.

   

The first couple of miles were quiet. I was purposely trying to run slowly – since I had pushed so hard the day before, I didn’t want to overdo it. I was just finding my rhythm.  

 Around the beginning of the fourth mile, I felt a twinge in my right knee. it didn’t feel like an injury, but I was certainly concerned.

The twinge disappeared around the fifth mile. It reappeared later around the eighth mile. I’m not too concerned, though I will be icing my knee for awhile.  

 At the sixth mile, my pace was strong – much to my surprise. I allowed myself to push through the last half mile.

I did have one small technical issue at this point. I accidentally turned off my phone at one point, so it didn’t register about a half-mile of my run. Bummer!

I’d been consuming one or two swallows of fruit puree every mile, interspersed with plenty of water. I felt remarkably strong. My energy levels were high. That, alone, is a HUGE win. I was able to push strong for the last couple of miles, and that felt pretty incredible.
I’m dog-sitting this week, and when I got home I was attacked and given a tongue bath. 🙂  

My final distance was about 8.5 miles, at about 13:19 pace (like I said my phone didn’t register about a half mile of the run). I was exhausted and happy. That was a long run, at a solid pace, with solid energy. That’s a great weekend.

6.3 miles, 20 degrees, 100% crazy

And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Winter definitely came in with a roar. Today’s high was, I believe, 21 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just about the coldest it’s been this season. It was dry, though, with no snow or ice to cause problems.

Perfect weather for a run! I bundled up tightly this afternoon, when the thermometer read 19 degrees. From the top down, I wore:

-a stocking cap and sunglasses
-sportsbra and tank top under a long sleeved shirt
-gloves
-leggings and a pair of shorts
-socks and shoes

Yes, I wore long pants. 😉 One brush with frostbite, and my family’s now very particular about long pants when it’s below freezing! (I will admit, I appreciated the extra layer. It was pretty cold today!)

I was hoping to run long(ish), though I promised my parents that I would turn around if it was too cold. (They worry about me. Isn’t that sweet?) The first mile felt pretty good. I felt a little creaky, pretty normal for the first mile of a run. I had to find my rhythm. It was cool outside but not bad at all.

The second mile was downhill, which made it pretty easy also. I got some text messages on my phone, which was a little distracting (I was eager to get to the 2-mile mark, where I would allow myself to stop and read those text messages) but not bad.

The third mile was when I really found my groove. I was pounding down the path and just feeling great. No other way to put it.

  

 Then I reached the halfway point of the run and turned around…

HOLY COW IT WAS COLD!

There was a slight wind today, perhaps 15mph. Most of the time, 15mph winds are barely a speed bump to me. It doesn’t slow me down significantly. Today, though, the wind was COLD, and I hadn’t realized that I’d been running with the wind at my back.

When I turned around, the wind was in my face, and it was COLD. No other words for it! Even with my head down, my exposed face was cold. At this point, I confess, I questioned the wisdom of my run.  Maybe it WAS a mistake to be out here running inn 20 degree weather…

But I was 3 miles from home, so I didn’t have much choice but to keep running. When I got to the end of the 4th mile, the road curved slightly, and the wind improved slightly. It was still cold but not as bad. The 5th mile was mostly uphill, so I had to mentally push myself a LOT.

The 6th mile was mostly flat, so I dug down and sprinted as much as I could at this point. I managed to knock a few more seconds off my pace.

Total: 6.3 miles, 1:25:46, average pace 13:35. Pace was definitely faster than I expected.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and will definitely be an “off” day for me. I also have to attend an all-day meeting on Monday so I won’t be able to run then. Tuesday is still up in the air, but my (chilly) fingers are crossed!

Rain Power!!

This has been a surprising (and surprisingly good) day.

I worked in the morning, went out to lunch with a friend, and did some shopping with that friend- nothing spectacular, but it was fun and enjoyable. It was raining off and on all day, and I had one eye on the weather. Last night, I was thinking I might try a run today, but once I saw the rain I was not feeling as certain.

I came home, looked at my schedule, and realized I still had a free hour in my schedule…

 
…so I ran! It was about 40 degrees, so I wore long sleeves with shorts. No gloves, incidentally – I thought about it, but then decided it wasn’t quite cool enough. I also lubed myself liberally, since it was raining and I wasn’t sure how wet I would become. (Lubed, slippery toes inside socks and shoes feel a little trippy!)

I didn’t have any particular goals for this run, but to my surprise, I had a fantastic pace – not quite a PR, but very nearly. I’m not sure if it was the rain or the chill in the air or just that I happened to be in a good mood. 3.6 miles total, average pace of 12:19. That’s perhaps the second or third fastest 5k I’ve ever run!